Friday Review: 99% True by Paul McGowan

99% True: Almost a National Bestseller99% True: Almost a National Bestseller by Paul McGowan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paul McGowan is the CEO of PS Audio, designers of high end audio equipment. He also has a podcast, newsletter, and YouTube channel. It was the latter that introduced me to McGowan. He posts a video everyday where he answers questions sent to him, mostly about audio and equipment. It’s a bit of a niche thing but the videos, even when I don’t understand all the technical details, are watchable and entertaining. He has a very down-to-earth demeanor and a reputation for meandering off the specific questions on tangents that could take you anywhere. He knows his audio stuff as he has been designing audio products for many years, and has worked with some of the top people in the audio business.

I was interested in reading the book because I knew he’d had a pretty interesting life. In his videos, he sometimes touches on the things in his past: escapades as a child growing up in California, some pretty heavy drug use as a young adult, and a number of stops and starts on the way to the company he heads now. I was hoping for the same sort of intimate, just-you-and-me chatting sort of style that comes across so well in the videos.

Unfortunately, that’s not what I found. I found the book to be a bit dry and lifeless in spots. I just couldn’t quite hear his voice in the same way while reading. Oh, his life was certainly interesting. As kid growing up in the southern California suburbs, he was in and out of trouble most of the time. His Army years were mostly spent trying to get around the strict regulations and trying to avoid being sent to Vietnam (at which he succeeded). And on the way to the respected company that PS Audio is now, there were many times his entrepreneur spirit was all that kept him going as one venture after another sputtered and failed. I just didn’t get the sense that this was the same guy talking in the book. At times, it was a bit of a struggle to keep reading.

The book should appeal to anyone who has an interest in audio and especially high end equipment, or those who like learning about the past lives of successful people. It’s not all fun, and it’s not at all instant success. I do wish more of the video Paul McGowan was apparent in the written version.

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